WINNIPEG, Man. — Bryan Pedlow doesn’t know how many times the Trucker Path app has saved his bacon.
“Just about every night,” he told Trucknews.com in an interview.
As a Winnipeg-based owner/operator hauling overdimensional loads in and out of the US, he needs to be off the road no later than one hour after sunset, yet he also wants to maximize his allowable driving time. Finding places to park isn’t easy, especially with an oversized load. He relies on the Trucker Path app not only to find places to park, but to get updates on the amount of parking spots available in near real-time.
“I used it just before I got here,” he said from a truck stop in Sioux City, Iowa. “I wanted to get fuel and a shower. Sometimes, this particular parking lot gets pretty full with all the meat haulers. I clicked on (the app), it said there was Medium parking here, I got in and that’s pretty much what it was.”
Before pulling out of the truck stop, after a pack of trucks had left, leaving most of the lot empty, Pedlow logged into the app and indicated it had High parking availability. And that’s how the app works.
There are more than 400,000 active users in the US and Canada, representing about a quarter of all Class 8 truck drivers in the US, according to Trucker Path. The app provides info on more than five million US and Canadian trucking facilities. For Pedlow, one of the main benefits is finding places to park that are off the beaten path, which he otherwise wouldn’t have known about.
“Particularly in the east, I find there are a lot more places that I had no idea were there,” he said. “Some of them aren’t very big, but nonetheless, they bail you out from time to time.”
GPS can tell you where the truck stops are located, but not necessarily the number of parking spots available or even the services provided by that truck stop. Pedlow said it’s important that users continue to provide updates to keep the app functional.
“We all need to contribute to it,” he said. “I can’t believe how the guys really jump on and participate. Any time I click on it, it’s very seldom there’s been an update any longer than a few minutes before. Everybody’s jumping on it.”
Terri McMillan, a flatdeck hauler out of Abbotsford, B.C., is also a regular user of the app. She’s been promoting it to other drivers within her company.
“I use the app mostly in the US, since that’s where most of my loads go, but it is also good for locating places to park in Canada, which can be difficult if you don’t know the area,” she said.
She uses both the Android and iPhone versions, since she carries two smartphones – one for Canada and the other for the US.
“Mostly, I use it to plan where I want to park,” she said. “I find it pretty accurate. It has been a pretty good tool.”
There are a few things she’d like to see added, such as real-time weather and road condition updates, and chain-up requirements for areas she’ll be travelling into.
The Trucker Path app is free to download and to use. It has been so widely embraced, that it has captured the interest of venture capitalists, who have provided funding of more than US$21.5 million.
Trucker Path can be downloaded from the App Store (Apple) and from Google Play (Android).
James Menzies is editor of Truck News and Truck West magazines. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies